A Death in the North

Lofoten Islands travel photo: dead beached whale at rugged coast near Eggum, April 2007. Cody Duncan photography

Hmm, another Lofoten post. Perhaps I’ve been at moderate latitudes for a bit too long and need another journey north. I had actually planed to travel to Lofoten around the new year to experience the polar night and the first coming of the sun, unfortunately, German class has put a ruin to those plans. Perhaps next year if I’m lucky.

(April 2007)
A day of nice weather gave me the itch for some change in scenery from Stamsund. I had never been to Unstad, so I decided to head there for a night or two. I figured the journey would take a good 4-5 hours as I would most likely have to do a fair bit of walking as I imagined traffic to be quite sparse to a tiny coastal village of only a few people. But as luck would have it, I caught a ride out of Lekness with a guy who was going all the way there, cool!

(More below, including a few a couple pictures that some might find disturbing…)

Being well ahead of schedule – using the term loosely, as one of the beauties of Norway is that if one carries a tent, it is legal to camp just about everywhere. Which means aimless wandering is quite a simple and enjoyable task, with never a worry about finding a place to camp for the night. The only general problem is finding someplace (relatively) flat and (relatively) dry, a somewhat rare combination. – I sat on the beach and read for a bit, but as the weather was drastically worse here on the north coast, this got a bit cold after a while. I left my pack near the beach and wandered up in the hills for a couple hours to look for a camping spot, but didn’t find anything that struck my fancy. Finally, I got the itch to hike around the coast towards Eggum, where I knew of a couple nice places to pitch a tent right at the coast and backed by giant cliffs.

As I rounded the point and lost my view of Unstad I finally became exposed to the full northern wind as it flowed unobstructed across the sea from some distant point further into the arctic. The sky also turned noticeably darker and I knew that rain would not be far off. I continued along the winding trail as it climbed high up on the side of a cliff with the raging sea crashing on the rocks below until the passing of another small point where the trail soon came to lay just along the oceans edge. In the distance I saw a couple people down by the water who appeared to be observing some large dark object. A little closer and it became clear, a whale, holy shit!

By now a light drizzle was beginning to fall but I wandered around for 20 mins or so taking pictures. Not looking forward to soon having to eat dinner after such a sight, and smell, (The smell! A blessing of the winds was that one could get close while up wind and be spared the stench while a journey down wind brought instant nausea.) I packed up and was just about to continue my journey along the coast when I saw a man and boy arrive with some “tools.” The man worked for a museum and had come for the teeth. A good 5-6 minutes with a hammer and chisel and the first one was out. Brutal. A few more pictures until it started raining a bit harder than I wanted to shoot in so I left and headed up the coast to look for a place for the night.

I heard that a few days later, with a spring tide, a boat came and pulled it out to sea…

Lofoten Islands travel photo: dead beached whale at rugged coast near Eggum, April 2007. Cody Duncan photography

Lofoten Islands travel photo: dead beached whale at rugged coast near Eggum, April 2007. Cody Duncan photography

Lofoten Islands travel photo: dead beached whale at rugged coast near Eggum, April 2007. Cody Duncan photography

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